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How Chatbots Help Business Avoid the Fear of a Black-Box AI Planet

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Chris Knight

The rise of AI in business largely goes unquestioned, until a poor decision comes out of a black box that no one can fathom or that causes actual damage. To avoid this, businesses need to adopt AI tools that are provable and customer-friendly, with chatbots paving the way until AI can be truly trusted.

In most business cases, artificial intelligence helps companies progress when it comes to their varied use cases. From understanding us humans and our convoluted languages, recovering data from forms, predicting outcomes etc., AI helps spot meaning, intent and value, and provides the power for chatbots, analytic services and other digital business tools.

However, as with 5G and 4G before it, as with robots in factories, and those pesky vaccines that keep us alive, there is a narrative in the media that AI is here to destroy us, to wipe out jobs, to weaken employees and other negative outcomes.

A black box AI, for example, could create results that imply bias with no proof behind them, so one person gets a low insurance quote while someone else in similar circumstances is charged more. Or, the AI may produce outcomes that are largely negative for the people-element of any equation. In regulated markets like banking, that could be a major issue. You can read more about the fine detail in black box technology here.

In one example, where the press brought their firepower to bear, take the black box AI in Target’s Shipt delivery app that is damaging (by 30% to 50%) the livelihoods of gig workers. “At other gig economy giants that rely on so-called ‘black box’ algorithmic pay structures, such as Instacart, DoorDash, Uber, and Lyft, workers who rely on the app as a primary source of income have found themselves at the mercy of constant, unexpected tweaks to their pay structure and no guarantee that they’ll make the minimum wage.”

But in others, the mystery of a black box AI will be more subtle and the risks need to be mitigated by the business, or avoided altogether. “One of the biggest concerns around AI is that complex ML-based models often operate as “black boxes.” This means the models — especially “deep learning” models composed of artificial neural networks — may be so complex and arcane that they obscure how they actually drive automated inferencing. Just as worrisome, ML-based applications may inadvertently obfuscate responsibility for any biases and other adverse consequences that their automated decisions may produce.”

To avoid your business falling into this trap, becoming the next target for a post-truth media assault, adoption of any chatbot or tool that uses AI requires some careful navigation during the process.

The simplest way for any business to get into AI is to start without it. Any company looking to improve their customer-facing technology can build a completely normal scripted chatbot. One that does nothing more than following the classic support or help script, delivering a few positive business outcomes for customers or clients, or directing them to the appropriate human support if the bot can’t deal with the question.

With that as the basis for a first effort, developers or creators can then start adding AI elements such as natural language processing (NLP), which as SnatchBot explains, “To develop your NLP model over time, so that it becomes more and more accurate at solving the task you want it to address, you will want the chatbot to learn, especially from its mistakes. Machine Learning is a hot topic in the search for true Artificial Intelligence. Our models embody Machine Learning in the sense that on the basis of your having provided example sentences and their outcomes, the model will make decisions about new sentences it encounters.”

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Having improved a chatbot with NLP, natural language understanding or deep learning, the business will see how the bot can improve outcomes, reduces the cost of investment through smart learning and provides a path for wider use of AI. That next step might be analytics with the likes of Domo providing business intelligence based on AI that a company can fine-tune to meet their own needs.

Using bots and other smaller tools, your teams will be better able to understand how the AI delivers results, and what to watch out for. As in-house teams or developers work with software or service partners who are increasingly bundling AI with business applications, having a broader understanding will help avoid mistakes and adopting poor solutions. Any provider selling a black box solution that “just does it” will clearly need to provide better reasoning.

Deloitte is just one brand highlighting the risks and providing advice on how to manage the black box of AI, citing risks including:

  • Erroneous decisions
  • Overlooked vulnerabilities
  • Increased scrutiny and higher expectations from consumers
  • Reputational, legal, and regulatory consequences
  • Delays in proper redress of business issues
  • Third-party induced risks due to limited visibility into algorithm design

However, by building a pillar of knowledge in the business using AI in bot and analytics tools, a company will be better positioned to identify these risks and be ready to avoid or deal with them. At their hearts, most current AI tools are relatively simple creatures, delivering predictable and measurable benefits to a company, but as AI gets smarter those risks will grow.

Then companies can look at the poor examples of AI and really consider if they should adopt them, would slashing contractor pay really show your company in a good light? While the future of artificial general intelligence (AGI) might open up a fresh can of worms, when it comes to business use, any company leadership needs to monitor and control how its AI is used today.

Another risk could see teams adding AI tools to services independently or without IT oversight, with the danger of shadow AI creeping into a company. Imagine if that AI starts to infect outcomes or poison data. How will the business explain to customers or an angry press if it cannot explain what went wrong?

As with much of cloud technology, AI is just another tool in the box, but while some email downtime isn’t that much of a deal, when and AI goes wrong or is misused, there could be a very nasty sting in the tail for users and the company, so developing a clear AI strategy and carefully considered adoption is essential to avoid ending up on the wrong side of the AI argument, or looking less than intelligent when it goes wrong.

Source: https://chatbotslife.com/how-chatbots-help-business-avoid-the-fear-of-a-black-box-ai-planet-dd0268745a7a?source=rss—-a49517e4c30b—4

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Graph Convolutional Networks (GCN)

In this post, we’re gonna take a close look at one of the well-known graph neural networks named Graph Convolutional Network (GCN). First, we’ll get the intuition to see how it works, then we’ll go deeper into the maths behind it. Why Graphs? Many problems are graphs in true nature. In our world, we see many data are graphs, […]

The post Graph Convolutional Networks (GCN) appeared first on TOPBOTS.

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graph convolutional networks

In this post, we’re gonna take a close look at one of the well-known graph neural networks named Graph Convolutional Network (GCN). First, we’ll get the intuition to see how it works, then we’ll go deeper into the maths behind it.

Why Graphs?

Many problems are graphs in true nature. In our world, we see many data are graphs, such as molecules, social networks, and paper citations networks.

Tasks on Graphs

  • Node classification: Predict a type of a given node
  • Link prediction: Predict whether two nodes are linked
  • Community detection: Identify densely linked clusters of nodes
  • Network similarity: How similar are two (sub)networks

Machine Learning Lifecycle

In the graph, we have node features (the data of nodes) and the structure of the graph (how nodes are connected).

For the former, we can easily get the data from each node. But when it comes to the structure, it is not trivial to extract useful information from it. For example, if 2 nodes are close to one another, should we treat them differently to other pairs? How about high and low degree nodes? In fact, each specific task can consume a lot of time and effort just for Feature Engineering, i.e., to distill the structure into our features.

graph convolutional network
Feature engineering on graphs. (Picture from [1])

It would be much better to somehow get both the node features and the structure as the input, and let the machine to figure out what information is useful by itself.

That’s why we need Graph Representation Learning.

graph convolutional network
We want the graph can learn the “feature engineering” by itself. (Picture from [1])

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Graph Convolutional Networks (GCNs)

Paper: Semi-supervised Classification with Graph Convolutional Networks (2017) [3]

GCN is a type of convolutional neural network that can work directly on graphs and take advantage of their structural information.

it solves the problem of classifying nodes (such as documents) in a graph (such as a citation network), where labels are only available for a small subset of nodes (semi-supervised learning).

graph convolutional network
Example of Semi-supervised learning on Graphs. Some nodes dont have labels (unknown nodes).

Main Ideas

As the name “Convolutional” suggests, the idea was from Images and then brought to Graphs. However, when Images have a fixed structure, Graphs are much more complex.

graph convolutional network
Convolution idea from images to graphs. (Picture from [1])

The general idea of GCN: For each node, we get the feature information from all its neighbors and of course, the feature of itself. Assume we use the average() function. We will do the same for all the nodes. Finally, we feed these average values into a neural network.

In the following figure, we have a simple example with a citation network. Each node represents a research paper, while edges are the citations. We have a pre-process step here. Instead of using the raw papers as features, we convert the papers into vectors (by using NLP embedding, e.g., tf–idf).

Let’s consider the green node. First off, we get all the feature values of its neighbors, including itself, then take the average. The result will be passed through a neural network to return a resulting vector.

graph convolutional network
The main idea of GCN. Consider the green node. First, we take the average of all its neighbors, including itself. After that, the average value is passed through a neural network. Note that, in GCN, we simply use a fully connected layer. In this example, we get 2-dimension vectors as the output (2 nodes at the fully connected layer).

In practice, we can use more sophisticated aggregate functions rather than the average function. We can also stack more layers on top of each other to get a deeper GCN. The output of a layer will be treated as the input for the next layer.

graph convolutional network
Example of 2-layer GCN: The output of the first layer is the input of the second layer. Again, note that the neural network in GCN is simply a fully connected layer (Picture from [2])

Let’s take a closer look at the maths to see how it really works.

Intuition and the Maths behind

First, we need some notations

Let’s consider a graph G as below.

graph convolutional network
From the graph G, we have an adjacency matrix A and a Degree matrix D. We also have feature matrix X.

How can we get all the feature values from neighbors for each node? The solution lies in the multiplication of A and X.

Take a look at the first row of the adjacency matrix, we see that node A has a connection to E. The first row of the resulting matrix is the feature vector of E, which A connects to (Figure below). Similarly, the second row of the resulting matrix is the sum of feature vectors of D and E. By doing this, we can get the sum of all neighbors’ vectors.

graph convolutional network
Calculate the first row of the “sum vector matrix” AX
  • There are still some things that need to improve here.
  1. We miss the feature of the node itself. For example, the first row of the result matrix should contain features of node A too.
  2. Instead of sum() function, we need to take the average, or even better, the weighted average of neighbors’ feature vectors. Why don’t we use the sum() function? The reason is that when using the sum() function, high-degree nodes are likely to have huge v vectors, while low-degree nodes tend to get small aggregate vectors, which may later cause exploding or vanishing gradients (e.g., when using sigmoid). Besides, Neural networks seem to be sensitive to the scale of input data. Thus, we need to normalize these vectors to get rid of the potential issues.

In Problem (1), we can fix by adding an Identity matrix I to A to get a new adjacency matrix Ã.

Pick lambda = 1 (the feature of the node itself is just important as its neighbors), we have Ã = A + I. Note that we can treat lambda as a trainable parameter, but for now, just assign the lambda to 1, and even in the paper, lambda is just simply assigned to 1.

By adding a self-loop to each node, we have the new adjacency matrix

Problem (2)For matrix scaling, we usually multiply the matrix by a diagonal matrix. In this case, we want to take the average of the sum feature, or mathematically, to scale the sum vector matrix ÃX according to the node degrees. The gut feeling tells us that our diagonal matrix used to scale here is something related to the Degree matrix D̃ (Why , not D? Because we’re considering Degree matrix  of new adjacency matrix Ã, not A anymore).

The problem now becomes how we want to scale/normalize the sum vectors? In other words:

How we pass the information from neighbors to a specific node?

We would start with our old friend average. In this case, D̃ inverse (i.e., D̃^{-1}) comes into play. Basically, each element in D̃ inverse is the reciprocal of its corresponding term of the diagonal matrix D.

For example, node A has a degree of 2, so we multiple the sum vectors of node A by 1/2, while node E has a degree of 5, we should multiple the sum vector of E by 1/5, and so on.

Thus, by taking the multiplication of D̃ inverse and X, we can take the average of all neighbors’ feature vectors (including itself).

So far so good. But you may ask How about the weighted average()?. Intuitively, it should be better if we treat high and low degree nodes differently.

We’re just scaling by rows, but ignoring their corresponding columns (dash boxes)
Add a new scaler for columns.

The new scaler gives us the “weighted” average. What are we doing here is to put more weights on the nodes that have low-degree and reduce the impact of high-degree nodes. The idea of this weighted average is that we assume low-degree nodes would have bigger impacts on their neighbors, whereas high-degree nodes generate lower impacts as they scatter their influence at too many neighbors.

graph convolutional network
When aggregating feature at node B, we assign the biggest weight for node B itself (degree of 3), and the lowest weight for node E (degree of 5)
Because we normalize twice, we change “-1” to “-1/2”

For example, we have a multi-classification problem with 10 classes, F will be set to 10. After having the 10-dimension vectors at layer 2, we pass these vectors through a softmax function for the prediction.

The Loss function is simply calculated by the cross-entropy error over all labeled examples, where Y_{l} is the set of node indices that have labels.

The number of layers

The meaning of #layers

The number of layers is the farthest distance that node features can travel. For example, with 1 layer GCN, each node can only get the information from its neighbors. The gathering information process takes place independentlyat the same time for all the nodes.

When stacking another layer on top of the first one, we repeat the gathering info process, but this time, the neighbors already have information about their own neighbors (from the previous step). It makes the number of layers as the maximum number of hops that each node can travel. So, depends on how far we think a node should get information from the networks, we can config a proper number for #layers. But again, in the graph, normally we don’t want to go too far. With 6–7 hops, we almost get the entire graph which makes the aggregation less meaningful.

graph convolutional network
Example: Gathering info process with 2 layers of target node i

How many layers should we stack the GCN?

In the paper, the authors also conducted some experiments with shallow and deep GCNs. From the figure below, we see that the best results are obtained with a 2- or 3-layer model. Besides, with a deep GCN (more than 7 layers), it tends to get bad performances (dashed blue line). One solution is to use the residual connections between hidden layers (purple line).

graph convolutional network
Performance over #layers. Picture from the paper [3]

Take home notes

  • GCNs are used for semi-supervised learning on the graph.
  • GCNs use both node features and the structure for the training
  • The main idea of the GCN is to take the weighted average of all neighbors’ node features (including itself): Lower-degree nodes get larger weights. Then, we pass the resulting feature vectors through a neural network for training.
  • We can stack more layers to make GCNs deeper. Consider residual connections for deep GCNs. Normally, we go for 2 or 3-layer GCN.
  • Maths Note: When seeing a diagonal matrix, think of matrix scaling.
  • A demo for GCN with StellarGraph library here [5]. The library also provides many other algorithms for GNNs.

Note from the authors of the paper: The framework is currently limited to undirected graphs (weighted or unweighted). However, it is possible to handle both directed edges and edge features by representing the original directed graph as an undirected bipartite graph with additional nodes that represent edges in the original graph.

What’s next?

With GCNs, it seems we can make use of both the node features and the structure of the graph. However, what if the edges have different types? Should we treat each relationship differently? How to aggregate neighbors in this case? What are the advanced approaches recently?

In the next post of the graph topic, we will look into some more sophisticated methods.

graph convolutional network
How to deal with different relationships on the edges (brother, friend,….)?

REFERENCES

[1] Excellent slides on Graph Representation Learning by Jure Leskovec (Stanford):  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1By3udbOt10moIcSEgUQ0TR9twQX9Aq0G/view?usp=sharing

[2] Video Graph Convolutional Networks (GCNs) made simple: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KRAOZIULzw

[3] Paper Semi-supervised Classification with Graph Convolutional Networks (2017): https://arxiv.org/pdf/1609.02907.pdf

[4] GCN source code: https://github.com/tkipf/gcn

[5] Demo with StellarGraph library: https://stellargraph.readthedocs.io/en/stable/demos/node-classification/gcn-node-classification.html

This article was originally published on Medium and re-published to TOPBOTS with permission from the author.

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Microsoft BOT Framework — Loops

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Loops is one of the basic programming structure in any programming language. In this article, I would demonstrate Loops within Microsoft BOT framework.

To follow this article clearly, please have a quick read on the basics of the Microsoft BOT framework. I wrote a couple of articles sometime back and the links are below:

Let’s Get Started.

I would be using the example of a TaxiBot described in one of my previous article. The BOT asks some general questions and books a Taxi for the user. In this article, I would be providing an option to the user to choose there preferred cars for the ride. The flow will look like below:

Create a new Dialog Class for Loops

We would need 2 Dialog classes to be able to achieve this task:

  1. SuperTaxiBotDialog.cs: This would be the main dialog class. The waterfall will contains all the steps as defined in the previous article.
  2. ChooseCarDialog.cs: A new dialog class will be created which would allow the user to pick preferred cars. The loop will be defined in this class.

The water fall steps for both the classes could be visualized as:

The complete code base is present on the Github page.

Important Technical Aspects

  • Link between the Dialogs: In the constructor initialization of SuperTaxiBotDialog, add a dialog for ChooseCarDialog by adding the line:
AddDialog(new ChooseCarDialog());

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  • Call ChooseCarDialog from SuperTaxiBotDialog: SuperTaxiBotDialog calls ChooseCarDialog from the step SetPreferredCars, hence the return statement of the step should be like:
await stepContext.BeginDialogAsync(nameof(ChooseCarDialog), null, cancellationToken);
  • Return the flow back from ChooseCarDialog to SuperTaxiBotDialog: Once the user has selected 2 cars, the flow has to be sent back to SuperTaxiBotDialog from the step LoopCarAsync. This should be achieved by ending the ChooseCarDialog in the step LoopCarAsync.
return await stepContext.EndDialogAsync(carsSelected, cancellationToken);

The complete code base is present on the Github page.

Once the project is executed using BOT Framework Emulator, the output would look like:

Hopefully, this article will help the readers in implementing a loop with Microsoft BOT framework. For questions: Hit me.

Regards

Tarun

Source: https://chatbotslife.com/microsoft-bot-framework-loops-fe415f0e7ca1?source=rss—-a49517e4c30b—4

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The Bleeding Edge of Voice

This fall, a little known event is starting to make waves. As COVID dominates the headlines, an event called “Voice Launch” is pulling…

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Tapaan Chauhan

This fall, a little known event is starting to make waves. As COVID dominates the headlines, an event called “Voice Launch” is pulling together an impressive roster of start-ups and voice tech companies intending to uncover the next big ideas and start-ups in voice.

While voice tech has been around for a while, as the accuracy of speech recognition improves, it moves into its prime. “As speech recognition moves from 85% to 95% accuracy, who will use a keyboard anymore?” says Voice Launch organizer Eric Sauve. “And that new, more natural way to interact with our devices will usher in a series of technological advances,” he added.

Voice technology is something that has been dreamt of and worked on for decades all over the world. Why? Well, the answer is very straightforward. Voice recognition allows consumers to multitask by merely speaking to their Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Siri, etc. Digital voice recording works by recording a voice sample of a person’s speech and quickly converting it into written texts using machine language and sophisticated algorithms. Voice input is just the more efficient form of computing, says Mary Meeker in her ‘Annual Internet Trends Report.’ As a matter of fact, according to ComScore, 50% of all searches will be done by voice by 2020, and 30% of searches will be done without even a screen, according to Gartner. As voice becomes a part of things we use every day like our cars, phones, etc. it will become the new “norm.”

The event includes a number of inspiration sessions meant to help start-ups and founders pick the best strategies. Companies presenting here include industry leaders like Google and Amazon and less known hyper-growth voice tech companies like Deepgram and Balto and VCs like OMERS Ventures and Techstars.

But the focus of the event is the voice tech start-ups themselves, and this year’s event has some interesting participants. Start-ups will pitch their ideas, and the audience will vote to select the winners. The event is a cross between a standard pitchfest and Britain’s Got Talent.

Source: https://chatbotslife.com/the-bleeding-edge-of-voice-67538bd859a9?source=rss—-a49517e4c30b—4

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